I’ve been living with depression for so long that I feel like I’ve gone through every symptom the condition has to offer.
Hopelessness, check. Fatigue, check. Insomnia, check. Weight gain — and weight loss — check and check.
Living with depression is hard, no matter what symptoms you’re experiencing. Sometimes, just the act of getting out of bed can seem like such a major hurdle that you’re not sure how everyone does it every day.
And if you’re like me, sleep disturbances are a common symptom. I’ve even managed to simultaneously experience insomnia and hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
Although I’m using medication, working with a therapist, and practicing other helpful techniques that get me through the day right now, sometimes the biggest undertaking is starting the day.
Here are some tips I’ve collected over the years to pull myself out of bed (and out of deep depression).
Many people — myself included — get stuck in a routine of dragging themselves out of bed to get to work… and that’s it. We barely have time for breakfast in our routine. We’re just trying to get out the door.
But if you create a morning routine worth waking up for, you may have a different outlook for your morning.
1. Start slow: Sit up
Start with the basics: Just try to sit up. Push your pillows up, and maybe have an extra pillow stashed nearby to prop yourself up.
Sometimes just the act of sitting up can get you closer to getting up, getting ready, and starting your day.
2. What’s for breakfast? Start thinking food
Thinking about food or your first cup of coffee can be great motivation. If your stomach starts grumbling enough while you’re forcing yourself to think about eggs, bacon, and French toast, you’ll be more likely to pull yourself up.
This doesn’t always work, though, especially if you’re experiencing a loss of appetite from depression. Still, know that eating something in the morning — even if it’s just a slice of bread — will help you get up.
Plus, if you take medications in the morning, it’s usually a good idea to have something in your stomach.
3. Don’t disregard the classics — try an alarm
Go back to the classics. Set an alarm — or a whole slurry of annoying alarms — and put your phone or clock out of your reach.
You’ll have to get up to shut it off. While it’s easy to just climb into bed again, if you have multiple alarms set, by the third one you’ll probably just be like, “FINE! I’M UP!”
4. Focus on what’s around you
Paper and pens may seem old-fashioned, but the affect they have definitely isn’t. Consider writing down something you’re grateful for every day. Or even better, do this at night and reread your gratitude in the morning. Reminding yourself about the positives in your life can start your day a little better.
Another option is to focus on your pets, which have shown to provide many benefits. They can be a great motivation for waking up in the morning, whether it’s feeding, walking, or cuddling with them.
Spending just a few minutes being unconditionally loved by your pet can have an overwhelming positive effect on your mood.
5. Get yourself motivated with routine
Don’t rush yourself to get up and get ready and take all the pleasure out of the morning. You can also try using other forms of motivation to get up, like your phone.
Let yourself check your email or watch a cute animal video to start your day. Just to ensure that you’re not staying on your phone all morning in bed, set a timer. Keep it around 15 minutes for phone time. Another option is to place your phone out of reach so you have to get up to use it.
Remember, give yourself time to create a routine you’ll enjoy
If you start to look at your morning in a more gentle and positive way, you may not just think of it as having to get up and do this or that.
Small enjoyable acts
- Make a cup of coffee or tea and sit outside for even just 10 minutes.
- Do some gentle yoga stretches.
- Use a morning meditation to start your day in a more peaceful and mindful way.
- Eat your breakfast while listening to music that makes you feel more positive, awake, or calm.
Learn to enjoy your morning self-care. It’s just another thing you can do to help manage your depression and get through your day.